Tag Archives: Amazon sales

May is looking pretty strong

At this point in the game, I recognize that I am the brand behind Entertaining Stories. If you take this point of view, the brand is doing pretty well. This isn't the same as actual sales, but those will improve as the overall brand improves.

I finished up April with a fun post about writing short stories. On the first, I learned about winning the Planetary Award for short stories. I got invited to make a promotional post for The Playground, and that went over well too.

I was in a seminar on Tuesday morning. I had to be on my best behavior because I was a presenter at this one. I managed to snitch a look at social media on our first break. It turns out that I am the member of the month at the Rave Reviews Book Club. This comes with a gigantic media push by the members, and many non-members have joined in already too.

This promotion goes on for a month, and they put up a good page on their website for me. You can check it out here. I've always supported wherever I can, but this selection floored me.

I decided to strike while the iron is hot, and have another promotion. The Playground has been kind of smoldering along. This isn't the first book that did this for me. There are sales, but they aren't incredible. One of my earlier books, Panama, has smoldered along almost continuously and is my best seller. Starting Saturday, The Playground is going to be priced at 99¢. This will only last a few days, but a spike in sales might get it onto some of the charts, and I could get some reviews along the way too. The sale applies to everyone, not just members of my book club.

I also received a couple more guest post requests. One of them is kind of challenging, and I've been thinking about it for days. I'll get it right, then send it out.

Tuesday morning I also received the first of my new Lisa Burton blog art pieces. It looks pretty fabulous, and I'll probably run it out next week sometime.

Speaking of Lisa, I received two new requests for radio interviews and sent them out. I also received one back, and need to assemble it for final approval.

May is looking like a good month for my personal brand. I believe the sales will come with the extra publicity.

Now I need to assemble my critique submission and get it out the door for our meeting. Hope you folks are having a great week.

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Of Manuscripts and Mayflies

This homely little fellow is a mayfly nymph. He hatched from an egg on the bottom of a stream. He lives at the very bottom of the river, down in the muck. He hides from the light and keeps between, and sometimes under the rocks.

He’ll live there for a whole year. He grows, and has to shed his skin multiple times. The withered husk simply drifts away on the stream. It kind of looks like him, but it has no soul. No personality. It’s almost like the nymph has to discard some things as he grows and evolves.

A novel starts out as a manuscript. Think of it like a novel nymph. It hatches from an outline, or even just a loose idea in a writer’s mind. It hangs out in the dark too. It’s habitat could be a spare bedroom, garage or even a closet/office. It too has to go through an evolution. Chapters go off to critique groups and come home as withered husks that only resemble the manuscript in a superficial way. Characters get combined, or even change genders. They get new names and evolve. Still, it stays in the dark growing in word count over a period of about a year.

After about a year, our mayfly nymph is as big as he needs to be. He’s been through many revisions and must shed his skin one last time. He comes into the light and swims to the top of the stream, wriggling out of his final skin.

A manuscript also steps into the light. It goes off to beta readers, who read the entire manuscript from the very beginning. These wonderful people suggest things that can make the story stronger and more coherent.

The nymph has to dry out a bit. He isn’t exactly a nymph anymore, but something in between stages. He has wings now, but they’re wet and wrinkled. He needs a bit of time in the sun.

The manuscript goes off to an editor. It needs a bit of polish too. Not much, just a bit here and there to let it put it’s best image forward.

Our nymph is gone forever. He is a fully fledged mayfly now, and a very handsome fellow to boot. His lines are estheticly pleasing, and he has a brilliant color. Anyone would be lucky to spot him and revel in his magnificence.

The manuscript is gone forever too. It is now a fully functional novel. It has a brilliant cover indicating the promise within. An enticing blurb greets all those lucky enough to spot it.

The mayfly scans the skies as the sun warms him up from his aquatic beginnings. He has one task left to compete. He must find a mate.

The novel goes through a waiting process too. The author has to upload everything to Amazon, or some other book vendor. There is some formatting to check, and it too is ready to take flight. It’s final job is to find a reader.

The mayfly spreads it’s wings and launches itself into the air.

The author pushes the publish button and cracks open a well earned beverage. Both the novel and the mayfly take flight, only to discover…

Welcome to the Amazon baby

There are other mayflies and novels competing for attention. Enough to to blot out the sun, both figuratively and literally.

 

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Mae Clair Presents: Will O’ the Wisp by C. S. Boyack #YA #MagicalRealism

Mae Clair has some wonderful things to say about Will O’ the Wisp on her blog today. She has an interesting blog, and is worth visiting even when I’m not the topic. Please consider supporting this wonderful blogger.

From the Pen of Mae Clair

Have I got a treat for you today! Blogging friend, Craig Boyack, has just released a tale guaranteed to appeal to young and old alike. I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of this wonderful novel, which combines elements of magical realism, mystery, and fantasy, as well as a highly appealing coming of age theme. As I don’t post reviews on my blog, you’ll have to check Amazon for my five star review/rating—but I do have to point out several things that stood out for me about this novel:

Title and book cover:
I’m a Will o’ the Wisp fanatic from long ago. That bobbing, weaving sphere of light might not get as much exposure on my blog, as say my favorite cryptid, the Mothman, but I’ll readily devour any novel built around the legend of a “hinkypunk” or “spook light” — especially when the myth is so cleverly woven…

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Book Review | Will o’ the Wisp by CS Boyack

Another great review for Will O’ the Wisp. I love the part where Ali uses them there fancy words like “piece de resistance! ” Thank you Ali.

aliisaacstoryteller

will of the wisp image for review

When blogger friend and author Craig Boyack put out on his blog that he was looking for ARC readers for his new book, Will o’ the Wisp, I jumped at the chance. I have read several of his books now, Panama, Arson and The Cock of the South, and enjoyed them all immensely. I was intrigued by some of the hints he had given on his blog during his writing journey, not least, how the hell was this hairy man of a certain age, who had nurtured a sourdough starter named Tituba for thirty odd years, going to get inside the head of a teenage girl?

Will o’ the Wisp is a paranormal YA novel set in mid seventies rural America and centres on a fifteen year old girl, Patty, and her slightly eccentric and dysfunctional family. I immediately sided with Patty; not only is she strong…

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Kindle Countdown Deal, the Results

My Kindle Countdown Deal for Panama has run it’s course. It’s time to assess the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hey, I made Panama a link, because you can still buy it.

What Amazon is saying. The information about a countdown deal is sparse. In a nutshell, it’s like a blue light special for books. It’s supposed to be exciting and bait consumers into buying the book. Exposure for one story will spark interest in my other stories. The requirements are all available, but you have to dig for them. This should have been a sign. I ran my promotion and only learned some things the hard way. The point is that I learned them, and I’m going to share them with you.

One thing to remember, your results might be dramatically different from mine. I don’t write in the most popular genres, and maybe you do. Maybe you have a broader social network than I do. That kind of thing.

What I wanted out of this promotion. I really wanted to offer this to my blog friends at a discount. People have been so kind to me that my primary goal was to promote the deal here for my followers. I could have done a free promotion, but then I’d never know how the countdown deal works.

I gave away a mountain of books during the Wild Concept promotion. If I sold even half that many at $0.99, maybe I could recoup the price of cover art. I don’t think $0.99 is gouging anyone, but I could be wrong. 

On a side note, does anyone have the name and address of the asshole who decided we no longer need a cents symbol on our keyboards? I’d like to pay him a little visit. I can’t even find an emoticon for it. ¢¢¢ (On my iPad, I have to hold down the $ key and slide my finger to the ¢ symbol.)

Biases that I’m admitting to. Think of this part as opinion. A sale is no guarantee someone will actually read the story. I’d be surprised if half the people bother to read a free book. When they pay for the book, the odds increase. Writers want to have their stories read. Sending a free book to some cloud based landfill isn’t achieving my goal.

Pricing a book at ¢99 puts it into the category of an impulse buy. It’s similar to those little things they place near the checkout stand at the grocery store. In fact it’s cheaper than a Bic lighter or Tic Tacks. Mom and dad can pass the kindle to little Bobby in the back seat so he’ll stop asking, “Are we there yet?”

The effort I put out. I blogged about the promotion several times. This isn’t a huge blog, but I’m at about 370 followers. I used my new membership in the Rave Reviews Book Club to promote too. There are about 500 members there, and the retweet power must have reached 10,000 more people. While I seriously doubt anyone buys anything based upon a Twitter promotion, the price was right – free.

What Happened. I sold exactly four (4) copies of Panama. Enjoy the shock value for a second. Let it sink in. There, done? It really isn’t as bad as it sounds. I know every single person who bought a copy, because they told me so. Here’s how they break down:

  • Two regular readers of this blog, who are also friends I interact with. (Including one who couldn’t get the sale price. Thank you Allie.)
  • One personal friend who is also a blog reader.
  • One member of the Rave Reviews Book Club. Lorraine Adair also tweeted about it to several thousand people.

Why isn’t it as bad as it sounds? Because those same people are much more likely to read the story than the hundreds who grabbed a book during the free promotion.

 
Assessment. I want to feel negative about this, but I can’t. This promotion didn’t cost me a cent. It provided blog fodder, and I sold four more books than I would have otherwise. All these folks are prolific readers too, and if they have something to offer it will be worth hearing. Three of them are writers themselves.
 
Amazon dropped the ball on this play. While a giveaway gets Amazon promotion, a countdown deal gets nothing. Amazon places a countdown clock (blue light) on my book page and walks away. It’s my job to drive people to the page.
 
It was in the fine print somewhere, but I missed it. The countdown deals are only available in the US and the UK. Many of my blog followers are from all over the world and could not take advantage of the offer. It can’t be any harder to make this available in other countries. I would have been just as well served to give a PDF of the story to some of my blog friends. I may still do that.
 
Does anyone else see the irony that people from Panama could not take advantage of a promotion for Panama?
 
I will probably use the giveaway option again someday. I think I can benefit from a shorter time period and accomplish something. I can’t guarantee anyone will read whatever story I give away, but there is benefit in getting lookers to my Amazon pages. I may not use the countdown deal again. I have to weigh getting a few voracious readers against the unfair practice of excluding entire parts of the world from the promotion. My sense of fair play is offended.
 
A broader assessment. I wound up shopping the Rave Reviews Book Club stories. I think my prices are too high. I believe I’m cheaper than a Starbucks or a Red Bull, but most of the self published books seem to be cheaper than mine.
 
This amazes me, because a server spends ten minutes with me and I leave a bigger tip on the table than what I charge for a book. I spent a year or more writing a story and invested some small amount in the cover art too. Facts are facts, and I probably just have to accept them.
 
Right now, I could make more money as a writer by finding a piece of cardboard and writing “Will Work for Food” on it.
 
I’m not actually discouraged. I enjoy writing. While I don’t enjoy the promotion and salesmanship, I also like learning new things. I’m just in the process of learning what doesn’t work.
 
Please weigh in. I’m signed up under the KDP 70% royalty option. This means that for every $3.99 book sold, I get $2.79. If I moved over to the 35% royalty option and sold books for ¢99, I would get ¢34 per sale. It’s the idea of making it up in volume. While I don’t think anyone can answer the question, I have to try somehow. At the lower price point, I would have to sell eight times the number of books to see the same income.
 
Another option is to stay in the 70% royalty program and lower my price to $2.99,which is the lowest possible under this option. This might be the better solution to my mind.
 
I’m not particularly interested in leaving the KDP program and trying other venues. While I may move more books by adding Nook, or Apple, I don’t really want to spend the extra time. Between my full time employment and writing, I’m already working seven days a week.
 
This isn’t all about the money. I’d be lying if I said I’m not interested in it; I like money. Ten years from now, with more titles available, if I could supplement my retirement significantly I would be ecstatic.
 
I also want people to have fun with my stories. To do that, they have to read them. I could put them all online for free and accomplish that. What I need is a happy middle ground.
 
Readers of this blog all seem to be pretty savvy. Many of you are writers yourselves. Let me hear from you. I don’t have to change anything today, but a change is coming. Amazon won’t let me change anything for Panama for another 14 days anyway. I’m looking for opinions here so speak up.

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My Next Move, and How I Got There

I joined the Rave Reviews Book Club. They sent me a welcome letter and it listed all my responsibilities. I don’t mind posting reviews of books, and the ones on their list have already been vetted.

I find it odd that they want me to follow all 500 or so members on Twitter. I rarely post on Twitter, but I have the account for my own purposes. I don’t want to sort through a thousand posts to find out whether I need to take an alternate route to work. I also use Twitter to follow Rotten Tomatoes, and find out when television shows I like are returning. I only follow about 20 to 30 accounts in total. (News, weather, baseball, Dr. Who updates.) If I follow every book club member, this becomes a reason to never look at Twitter again.

They offer some nice exposure to writers. My books have a much better chance of getting read in a smaller pool. I’m one of a billion on Amazon, but one of 500 or so here. Any reviews I receive get posted to Amazon, and that should help.

I struggle with decisions sometimes. I’ve put myself out there so many times it ought to be second nature. At one point, I shared something I wrote with someone for the very first time. I submitted queries and collected rejection slips. I joined a critique group and accepted feed back. Then I published a novel using Amazon’s KDP program. This really shouldn’t have been such a big deal.

Some of the struggle has to be in my nature. I know it’s silly, and knew it while I was struggling. I just have to work through it all, before I make a decision.

I keep a list of famous quotes. I don’t care who someone is, or was, if they had something intelligent to say they go on the list. When I struggle with something, I read through my list. I found dozens that were useful, from such luminaries as Theodore Roosevelt, Gandhi, and Thomas Edison. I was struck by these two:

Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go so much further than people with vastly superior talent. – Sophia Loren

This was the one that gave me the kick in the ass I needed. It’s origin is shrouded, but it is frequently attributed to this lady:

A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things. – Admiral Grace Hopper

I decided to quit twiddling my thumbs and hoping for the best. Better to try making something happen. There were a dozen or so tweets welcoming me to the Rave Reviews Book Club within minutes. As a newbie, I’m only allowed to push one book for now, so I placed Panama on their list. We’ll se how it fares after a few weeks.

I bought my first book from the list to make sure I play by the rules. I intend to start reading Ambient Light sometime this week.

 

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Book Promotion: The Early Assessment

Most of my regular readers know that I recently ran a free promotion of my novel, Wild Concept, on Amazon. The free promotion is one of two tools an author can use to promote his/her work. There are many other ways to promote, but I’m talking about things Amazon created for authors. The other tool is a countdown deal, and I haven’t tried this yet.

Amazon let’s me give a book away for five days every quarter. I’m not required to use them all at once, but I did.

What I assumed:

As a brand new author, I need readers. If I give my book away for a period of time I will get some readers.

Some people will grab a book, just because it’s free. This does not mean they’ll read that book. Therefore, the number given away will be larger than the number of readers.

Interest in the free book will create sales of Panama, my new story.

What I read from others:

Sales will keep going after the promotion ends.

A promotion will lead to sales of your other books.

Never do a promotion longer than three days. (I read what others say. I don’t always believe it.)

What I wanted:

A couple of positive reviews for Wild Concept.

Interest in Panama to increase.

What happened:

I gave away a crap ton of books. More than I could even imagine. At one point, I was number 36 on Amazon’s free science fiction book list.

The majority of downloads occurred on the first day. The numbers dropped dramatically on day two and stayed there. I remained on the top 100 until I reverted to paid status once again.

One person, from the UK, bought Wild Concept prior to the promotion and returned it. I hope this was to take advantage of the free version and not because it sucked. I’ll never know. (My first return.)

I didn’t make a single sale of Panama during this promotion.

There hasn’t been a single purchase of Wild Concept since it went back to paid status.

Very few of the downloads came through my blog. I checked to see how many clicked on the link, and it was less than one percent vs. downloads.

Assessment:

Free promotions are a good thing. I won’t do another one that lasts longer than one day. There might be an advantage to doing a different title each day after I have all my old stuff available.

Amazon must have some good promotional stuff going on. My blog only has about 350 followers, and that includes the get rich quick folks and the same Colombian Cutes that followed everyone else a few months ago. My downloads were way beyond what the blog could drive.

It’s too early to tell if reviews are coming. People haven’t had time to read the book yet, and some might not get to it for months.

It’s also too early to tell if Panama will benefit. I would read the free book before deciding if I read the author again.

What’s next:

I have to be patient, something I’m not good at. Time will tell as far as whether I got what I wanted out of this promotion. I’ll keep working on getting the next story ready to post.

I don’t want to do another promotion right away. This is to keep the data clear as far as what this one accomplished.

I mentioned in a recent blog post that I like to play with all the toys. I’d like to try a Kindle Countdown Deal. I’ll give it a few weeks and decide what to do then. I might use Panama as the guinea pig.

Once I get all my old stuff uploaded, there might be an advantage in giving each one away for one day in succession.

Debate. Share your experiences or thoughts in the comments section. I’d like to know what you guys think.

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